Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Work Setting and Client Risk Factors Checklist (OSACH, 2006)

Characteristics of worker’s occupation that might increase risk

Note: The risk of violence is higher if the worker’s occupation involves physical contact with patients or clients, particularly if the contact is frequent or prolonged. Increased risk is associated with:

  • Working in an emergency; psychiatric or extended care unit
  • Dealing with the public (social work, nursing, human resources, reception)
  • Dispensing drugs
  • Delivering social services
  • Handling cash
  • Working alone (or in a small group), at night, or during early morning hours
  • Performing public health or security functions

Aspect of the workplace environment that might increase risk of violence

  • Working alone or in remote locations
  • Working in the community in areas with high crime rates and/or gang-related problems
  • Clinic staff who stay behind after regular office hours, or use weekends to catch up on work
  • Needle exchange workers
  • Social workers, home support workers, nurses and other health care providers who travel by car, bus or on foot between client’s homes.
  • Night-shift health care workers who work alone
  • Interconnected buildings and shared premises that may allow members of the public uncontrolled access to, or increased movement between, facilities.
  • Care areas such as emergency, critical care or pediatric wards, which tend to be very stressful for the patient or client and family members.
  • Areas with public waiting areas (lobbies, emergency departments and ambulatory clinics)where long waiting periods and crowded conditions can contribute to the incidence of disagreements or brawls.